Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett – book review

Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters—And How to Talk About It

Having heard Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith radio program a few times, I couldn’t resist buying the book when I saw it in the discount bin at Borders.  The subtitle to the book, Why Religion Matters—And How to Talk About It, is an issue that’s been on my mind recently.  In traveling to many countries around the world, I have the opportunity to talk to a lot of people of different religious backgrounds: Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, agnostics, and atheists among others.  I enjoy talking about religion, but I have internalized the American adage that it’s something you don’t talk about in polite company.  So this book really caught my attention. Continue reading “Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett – book review”

Seven Spheres of Influence

I read in a recent piece by David Brooks that, “Over the past seven months, the number of people who say government is doing too many things better left to business has jumped from 40 percent to 48 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.”  My first reaction was, “Remember last year when ‘business’ ruined our economy?’”  My second reaction was, “Why must we choose between only two options, business or government?”  Continue reading “Seven Spheres of Influence”

For on his brow I see that written which is Doom

One of the sharpest social critics of 19th century European industrial capitalism was…Charles Dickens. Those who have read Karl Marx’s writings see the world that he is attacking; those who have read Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Bleak House, or A Christmas Carol will see that same world. However, we find the world described by Dickens, because it is novelized, less abrupt and perhaps more understandable. Continue reading “For on his brow I see that written which is Doom”

What Might Have Been

September 14, 2001 – Three days after terrorists hijacked two commercial airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center Towers, felling them and killing nearly 3,000 people, the President of the United States made a visit to “Ground Zero.”  He took a bullhorn in his hands and, as workers chanted, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” said, “I can hear you.  The rest of the world hears you. And the rest of the world will soon know what we’re really made of.  In the face of this tragedy, there is an almost unimaginable desire for revenge.  However, our founding principles cannot allow it.”  Continue reading “What Might Have Been”

Turn the Other Cheek? Are you Serious?

This was originally posted by the author at The Idealist.

Leo Tolstoy is perhaps the ultimate example of the late-in-life nihilist-turned-idealist. He is best known for his mid-life fiction, most notably War and Peace and Anna Karenina. He was early on somewhat of a determinist and nihilist but late in life began a study of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and came away a determined Christian, with significant misgivings regarding the Russian orthodox church specifically and organized religion and government generally. He wrote his thoughts in two books that were significantly suppressed by the Russian Church and the Czarist government.

Continue reading “Turn the Other Cheek? Are you Serious?”

Book Review: The Essential Gandhi by Louis Fischer

I read The Essential Gandhi by Louis Fischer a few months ago.  But until a 10-day work trip to Africa and the Middle East, I didn’t have time to write down all the passages I had underlined.  They are many.  I had a hard time delineating his ideas into categories because they are so (not to be cliché) transcendent.

 

This book and the ideas of this man have greatly changed my personal point of view.  He was a significant force in the thinking of the 20th Century.  But, like Christ and many other great teachers, many of his ideas are ignored or ridiculed simply because they are too darn hard for us “modern” people to implement.  We justify this to ourselves by calling them quaint and outdated, but really we’re just too lazy to act on them.

 

Below are some of my favorite quotes (believe me; I could have made it longer). Continue reading “Book Review: The Essential Gandhi by Louis Fischer”

Our National Books

In a book I recently read (that I wish I had read 20 years ago), A Thomas Jefferson Education, the author speaks of national books.  “A national book is something that almost everyone in the nation [note the use of “nation” rather than “country”] accepts as a central truth.”  Each nation has its own books, although in some cultures the national “books” are (or were in the past) oral traditions.  These books have much to do with the establishment of a national identity and culture.  They can be good (War and Peace) or bad (Mein Kampf), religious (Bhagavad Gita) or secular (Shakespeare).

 

The book cites Allan Bloom’s assertion that America’s national books through its first 150 years were the “Declaration of Independence” and the Bible.  But somehow in the 1950s and 60s familiarity with these national books dropped off dramatically.  The problem this causes is immense—we no longer have these essential works as the foundation of our culture.  This begs the question: What has replaced them? Continue reading “Our National Books”

The Man in Black

Every other week or so, I will post lyrics to a song or words to a poem that exemplify the ideas of the fearless path. One of the most out-spoken Christian songwriters of the last half of the 20th century was Johnny Cash. His life story is fascinating, demonstrating weaknesses, wild success, failure, loss, and most importantly, redemption. His anthem of “why” is found in the following words:

Continue reading “The Man in Black”

The Fearless Path

“Turn the other cheek.”  How many times do we hear the phrase?  So often, I would say, that it has lost its meaning.  But what does it really mean?  And more importantly—was He serious? 

 

“Love thy neighbor.”  OK, that’s not easy, but not impossible, either.  But was Jesus serious when He said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”?  Was He being idealistic or did He just not understand “the real world”?  Continue reading “The Fearless Path”